The Elkington-Setty Vineyard sits near the top of Atlas Peak in the South East corner of Napa Valley. The vineyard faces East on slopes between 1610 and 1739 feet in elevation. Our fruit is sourced from the old block, planted in the early 1980’s to an old heritage selection of Cabernet Sauvignon originally brought to California from Bordeaux in the late 1860’s. Grown in fractured volcanic rock, the vines are cane pruned and trained in the classic California Sprawl style, and these old vines match moderate growth and open canopies to the warm days and cool nights of the site. Limited water and mature vines yield us small crops of intense fruit. Atlas Peak has many microclimates, and this is a fairly warm site that starts and ends early, with most vintages reaching ripeness by the end of September well before the fall.
Bookmark – Mark the moment
The Full Story
This has been a wonderful journey of discovery, learning and tasting that has brought us here.Bookmark wines started as a mutual hobby among friends while living in San Francisco. The idea was simple, we all liked wine and thought it would be fun to make. That simple idea to have fun and start a hands on learning process of making wine was a wonderful beginning that we will never forget.
Over the course of 10 years the process and fundamentals of making wine have been refined to a very targeted cabernet that we are proud to release. Along the way we had some disappointments and some early surprises. Those surprises were long ago shared or consumed. And in the case of a disappointing 2003 Pinot “donated” to the San Francisco community. I would like to share some of the history of how we reached this exciting release day.
In 2003 shortly before the October harvest a group of friends had gathered for a dinner party in San Francisco. We were a diverse group all with different backgrounds and professions, but over the course of the evening we found ourselves distilled down to a small group who shared a very real interest in wine and wine making. Our interest was intense, but with broad questions like: Why is pinot so delicate? How do you craft a long finish? What is barrel rotation all about? Why does the price of grapes vary so much in Califonia? So that night we committed to make wine for ourselves in a garage on the avenues of San Francisco.
Over the course of the next 5 years we would begin to answers those questions through the wonderful process of making our own wine. The start was very basic, we read a lot, made phone calls and talked to a lot of people. That season kicked off in a U-Haul van lined with plastic, driving out to Lodi where we had made contact with a grower ready to sell us 1 ton of Pinot and 2 ton of Cabernet. We drove back into San Francisco to the garage where we had rented a crusher/stemmer and completed our first harvest. We attempted our first cold soak and took turns leaving work early to do punch downs on the fermenting pinot and cabernet. The most comical moment of that first year occurred when our first barrel was ordered and delivered to a cube in a downtown San Francisco financial district office. Makes for good conversation when you have to roll that barrel from your office to the elevator and out the parking garage. We learned strong fundamentals over that first 5 years, but most importantly we narrowed our focus. After all the trials with pinot, merlot and cabernet, our discussions and or passion for wine always returned to Bordeaux styles and Cabernet fruit.
In 2007 the Kalin family joined this endeavor and with our wine making passion aligned to Bordeaux style cabernets we started to target and refine our efforts toward something very specific with a commercial launch as our goal. The start was very simply. We got out of the garage, targeted a specific region in Napa Valley and committed to have a ton of cabernet made to our specifications from a winery sponsoring private label clients in the stags leap district. It is very subtle with a straight forward toasted oak finish and tannins that have aged well. This wine is the first vintage available from out site. (Bookmark 2007- 25 cases)
After the experience of 2007 we adopted a method of making contacts to find the best fruit in Napa valley that we as a small producer could get access to for production. In 2008 this worked well and we learned a great deal about fruit that can bring consistent complexity that we must have. From that year we harvested over 8 tons of grapes. Most of that harvest was Merlot and Cabernet from northeastern Napa Valley and 2 tons of Cabernet Franc from a very small vineyard in Napa near Duckhorn. We introduced a barrel rotation of new French oak and single use chardonnay barrels. This vintage proved to be difficult in blending trials just before bottling. We had a good Bordeaux style Cabernet and Merlot blend in mind, but it was not at the standard we had set for Bookmark. We had segmented the different fruit all the way through barrel aging and made the call after blending trials to only sell the 1 barrel of Cabernet Franc under the Bookmark label (Bookmark 2008 - 25 cases). As a result we created the Billy Ray’s Recession Red label and bottled a Cabernet/Merlot Blend and a straight Merlot under that label. (2008 vintages – 225 Cases) The Cabernet Franc is very complex with a great smoky finish that lasts. Billy Ray has received great feedback from those we have tasted it and is a favorite as a casual red wine to have in the cellar.
Moving out of 2008 we again made changes to refine our wine even closer to the Bordeaux style we are constantly striving to perfect. Due to several relocations moving all partners out of California we made the call to find a wine maker who could ensure our vision was crafted in wine. We found that talent in Tim Milos. Tim has been an awesome addition to our team and we were lucky to find such talent for wine making and incredible knowledge of the Napa appellations. As a result in 2009 we settled on fruit from Atlas Peak in Napa Valley and it is some great fruit. It has the subtle fruit flavors we target but with great complexity from the mountain side volcanic soil and a stability in harvest to give a repeatable base to build an exacting barrel rotation program with. We have locked into 60% new oak barrels each year. We blend a mixture of classic French oak medium toast with a limited amount of barrels chosen for the background spice character. We have continued to refine this approach since 2009 and you will find the 2009 and 2010 releases have clear differences but are very much the same style. (Bookmark 2009 and 2010 – 225 cases each year)
Our goal is very simple in this effort. We are a value driven endeavor. Finding the best fruit and extracting quality barrel flavors is required to reach this Bordeaux style. For those who enjoy this style we believe you will like it as well. Good wine among friends has always been a great way to mark moments in time. That is why we call it Bookmark.
Bookmark – Mark the moment